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Best practice: Replication of Backup data onto external harddrive or NAS / different backup location

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Beginner
Posts: 1
Comments: 3

Hello community,

 

when using Acronis Cyber Protect, I always wondered how to replicate / sync backup-data from one backup-location to another backup-location (like an external harddrive or another NAS/SAN) in case of a desaster.

 

1. In what ways can I do this

2. And what would be best practice with less effort?

 

Scenario:

  • 1x VMware-Acronis-Appliance
  • 1x VMware agent
  • a few VMware-VMs backed up via VMware agent ("agentless")
  • a few MS Agents like MS AD, and MS Exchange backing up via agent (application-aware)
  • -> backup-location a): NAS-storage via SMB

goal:

  • Replicate data from backup-location a) (NAS-storage) onto a different backup-location in order to increase data-security in case of emergency (in case, backup-location a) goes down) 
  • possible other data-locations: another NAS, or a external hard-drive

 

My ideas were:

1. Replicate / synchronize data from backup-location a) onto b) (another NAS) via NAS-methods), (ie. via rsync, sftp, robocopy or similar)

--> problems: Navigatin Acronis-appliance onto backup-location b) and scanning the backup-data results in "empty" locations, thus Acronis cannot really read the "manual" synchronized data from location ab) to b)

Disadvantages: Since Acronis now uses AI, backup-data is now one single-file (tibX) which gets huge!!!

-> thus, "manual" replication of this huge single tibX-file takes hours, if not using copying via block-level...

 

 

2. Use Acronis to do the job: Edit the existing job from location a) and add a replication-path to b) ?!?

Disadvantages:

-> backup-job takes much longer and could fail if one location has issues...

Is this the better way?

 

3. Use acronis to do the job: Create another task to exclusively backup data onto its new location to location b)

Disadvantages:

-> more jobs create more administration-effort and the overview could be reduced due to many tasks...

 

 

Many thanks for your suggestions...

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Forum Member
Posts: 11
Comments: 32

Hello,

We use a similar concept with tapes; for me backup is backup (priority 1) and replication is replication (priority 2), which means its a different kind of jobs - that's how it's organized in the Acronis UI ...

I would prefer 2. Based on 10Gbit it should be no performance or time issue and productive systems are not affected during the replication...

Erik

Regular Poster
Posts: 12
Comments: 454

Hello Horschd!

Recommended approach is 2, but differently than you suggest. See below for elaboration on each.

1.

AI, backup-data is now one single-file (tibX) which gets huge!!!

Tibx format has nothing to do with AI. AI is involved in Cyber protection and disk health monitoring, not backups. How huge it gets depends on your data and retention rules. AFAIK it grows to accomodate new data, but doesn't shrink when data is "deleted" rather it's marked as free space for the next backup to occupy. So if your data size and retention scheme is more or less constant it shouldn't grow bigger than what your entire archive chain would occupy.

The first option is definitely a no go in most situations:

  • If you have a simple SMB location with tibx archives it might work, but you are still stuck with file level operations with the backup files, whereas Acronis can dig deeper to actual recovery points.
    I store single full tibx backups of decomissioned drives this way and refreshing recovery points make them disappear or appear within Management console > Locations
  • If you have deduplicated storage this option is out of the picture entirely.
  • Depending on what do you want to replicate, it might not even be needed to copy entire archive chain (the complete file), just a single recovery point. 

2. Use Acronis to do the job: Edit the existing job from location a) and add a replication-path to b) ?!?

Disadvantages:

-> backup-job takes much longer and could fail if one location has issues...

Is this the better way?

This sounds like you have replication configured as part of a backup plan. The recommended way to do replication when this is unsuitable is to use a separate replication plan (requires advanced licence IRC)

  1. Agents backup to NAS
  2. Some server that has access to both NAS and secondary storage will perform the replication as part of a replication mini plan.
  3. Ideally set the scheduling so replication is performed when the backed up machines are offline, not backing up currently or minimal writes to the NAS at least.

3. In addition to management overhead this would result in unnecessary resource usage on your backed up machine and network from them to the NAS, as well as doubling your shortest backup frequency (e.g. if you are backing up almost as often as backup create takes). Additonally your backed up machines may not even be able to access the secondary storage.

-- Peter

Beginner
Posts: 1
Comments: 3

Hello Peter,

thanks for the reply so far...

My comments are down below:

 

If you have a simple SMB location with tibx archives it might work, but you are still stuck with file level operations with the backup files, whereas Acronis can dig deeper to actual recovery points.

I store single full tibx backups of decomissioned drives this way and refreshing recovery points make them disappear or appear within Management console > Locations
If you have deduplicated storage this option is out of the picture entirely.
Depending on what do you want to replicate, it might not even be needed to copy entire archive chain (the complete file), just a single recovery point.

1). We have 2x SMB locations (2x NAS) which are using file-level-replication and 2x external USB-hard-drives

We do not have deduplication available on the SMB-locations

Depending on what do you want to replicate, it might not even be needed to copy entire archive chain (the complete file), just a single recovery point.

What exactly do you mean - how can I implement this (only copying a single recovery-point) with methods except Acronis UI?

-> do yo mean to create a task which targets to 2nd SMB-location with only full-versioning (thus per each tibx-file only 1 recovery point?

 

 

This sounds like you have replication configured as part of a backup plan. The recommended way to do replication when this is unsuitable is to use a separate replication plan (requires advanced licence IRC)

Agents backup to NAS
Some server that has access to both NAS and secondary storage will perform the replication as part of a replication mini plan.
Ideally set the scheduling so replication is performed when the backed up machines are offline, not backing up currently or minimal writes to the NAS at least.

2) I actually do not know how to add replication - do you mean in the Acronis UI under edit of a task to simply add a 2nd-target-location with different versioning-parameters? -> is this "replication" ?

2/3. This replication plan with the advanced licence is done by an Acronis-agent or by the appliance, I guess?

Thus, it takes care that the backup-chain gets replicated onto 2nd location without the need to enable unnecessary load on the source-machines?

 

 

--> depending on your current comments,

I guess I would use following model:

source: 1x VMware ESXI-host
source: few/dozen VMs
target: SMB location 1
2nd target: SMB location 2
3/4th target: 2x external USB hard drives
- Every task has as primary target SMB-location 1

- Every task has as secondary target SMB-location 2 (SMB-location 2 uses the external hard-drives to enable SMB-access via SMB location 2): this task uses only 1-version to ensure to create only single recovery-points)

PS: External hard-drives are - of course - encrypted (via NAS directly, optional via Acronis)

 

Goal: Ensure fast recovery in order with fast access to target SMB-location 1 while maintaining weekly backups with a single recovery-point onto external hard-disks which will be swapped every week. Thus, in a real desaster-event, we would "only" loose 1 week, which would be acceptable for a small KMU...

Regular Poster
Posts: 12
Comments: 454

Hello Horschd! 

What exactly do you mean - how can I implement this (only copying a single recovery-point) with methods except Acronis UI?

You can't. That's why I suggested using Acronis itself to do this,.

2) I actually do not know how to add replication - do you mean in the Acronis UI under edit of a task to simply add a 2nd-target-location with different versioning-parameters? -> is this "replication" ?

It's the form of replication that is part of the plan. 

2/3. This replication plan with the advanced licence is done by an Acronis-agent or by the appliance, I guess?

It's performed by whichever Acronis agent you want, and have access to the source and target location. I usually let off-host processing be done by the agent on the storage node.

Thus, it takes care that the backup-chain gets replicated onto 2nd location without the need to enable unnecessary load on the source-machines?

This is exactly the purpose of a separate replication plan. I can't provide an up to date screenshot, as I'm still running 12.5. Section 10.1 of the user guide covers these off-host processing plans, 10.1.2 in particular for backup replication.

There are also replication related commands you can invoke with acrocmd in case you can't setup the replication plan how you want in the GUI.

-- Peter

Beginner
Posts: 1
Comments: 3

Hello Péter,

I have found on Acronis a manual for my case

Hah, funny, I cannot place a hyperlink in this forum, very weird an not user-friendly :/

Luckily, we do have the advanced version, therefore I could create a replication task;

 

As far as I understand it, this replication-task replicates backups from location a) to location b) via an Acronis-agent where you can granularly choose how big the backup-chain will be for location b) (the target-replication);

In my example, the location b) is an encrypted-ext-harddisk with only 1 version (the latest)

 

Just another question:

1. I have created one huge task which replicates 12x! source-locations to SMB-location b) ->

Acronis UI seems to hang/freeze and the events tell me "Task-Timeout ist abgelaufen" that there has been a task-timeout...

Maybe it is better to create for each source-location a separate task?

Somehow, I guess the Acronis-agent tries to replicate all the 12x! source-location simultaneously instead of queueing them?!?

 

2. In case we - or a customer - does not have an advanced licence, what would you instead

recommend in order to get Acronis-friendly replication?!?

-> maybe use the simple backup-task and add a 2nd location???

Forum Member
Posts: 11
Comments: 32

Increase the replication time out parameter to something like 24h (86400)

Workaround: https://kb.acronis.com/content/68166

Regular Poster
Posts: 12
Comments: 454

In my example, the location b) is an encrypted-ext-harddisk with only 1 version (the latest)

Latest means it takes the latest backup at the time of running. As I see you configured it to run on sundays, so it will have the effect of keeping at least weekly backups, which you then keep unless they were made more than 2 months ago.

2. In case we - or a customer - does not have an advanced licence, what would you instead

recommend in order to get Acronis-friendly replication?!?

I'm not sure, but the command line app (acrocmd) may not have this licence limitation. So you can create a script you could invoke on a schedule. Otherwise I don't have clear suggestions, you'll need either one plan 2 location or 2 plans. How you distribute management and performance overhead is subject to some experimentation I wager.

Somehow, I guess the Acronis-agent tries to replicate all the 12x! source-location simultaneously instead of queueing them?!?

1 replication task for 12 sounds like a lot. I'd do one task per location as 12 isn't that many anyway and easier to run them in isolation, distribute scheduling (or perform by another agent) and able to reconfigure retention should it be needed later.

Even if you have the same requirements for all, probably worth it to configure this way still and manually run each to seed the second location with the initial batch of backups. After that disable them and keep only the plan you initially wanted to run.

You could increase replication timeout as Erik suggested, but I suggest you do this only after your initial batch of backups are already there and the task still times out. This way you can better asses the expected runtime in usual cirmustances.

If the weekly backups you are replicating are full backups, there's probably not a gain in performance between initial/usual task execution, as you'll have the same ammount of data to replicate.

Hah, funny, I cannot place a hyperlink in this forum, very weird an not user-friendly :/

It works for me. There might be a limitation for users with less than X number of posts though. We've had an outbreak of spammers lately in the forums for which this could be a prevention mechanism.

-- Peter

Beginner
Posts: 1
Comments: 3

A little update:

 

- As you guys have suggested, I created a replication task for each machine.

All the tasks work so far, BUT when I try to mount/read/restore the replicated data from the replication-store, I get an error message like 'the agent does not support this kind of operation' or something like that.

Even if I use a different agent, I still get the error message (indedentply from the type of backup-job);

 

Stupid question:

1.- I did set for each replication task to "only replicate latest backup" instead if "only use full backups" -> is it an issue, that Acronis replication does not 'recognize' the backup-chain with the last full-backup?!?!?

 

- 1.1 Do I have to use for replication tasks only full-backups in order to restore data from the replication-store?!?!

And if so, why doesn't Acronis UI warn me about this 'feature' ?!?

 

Many thanks...

 

Forum Support specialist
Posts: 0
Comments: 1938

Hello Horschd,

thank you for posting this question on Acronis forums!

1.- I did set for each replication task to "only replicate latest backup" instead if "only use full backups" -> is it an issue, that Acronis replication does not 'recognize' the backup-chain with the last full-backup?!?!?

It works the other way. Replication is not simply copying the last slice operation but unpacking the archive you selected for replication and transferring its data to another location. Thus replication operation is more time-consuming than creating a backup. If you selected "only replicate latest backup", you got a .tibx file with the data available for restoration (that is equivalent to the latest recovery point) at the target location as the result. The reason to use the "only replicate latest backup" option is for cases when a replication task is started rarer than a backup one. When this option is not selected and earlier backups were not replicated (for example, the network connection was lost), the software also replicates all of the backups that appeared after the last successful replication.

- 1.1 Do I have to use for replication tasks only full-backups in order to restore data from the replication-store?!?!

No, you don't. This option is for cases when you need only full backups at the second target location ( e.g. when replication is done on the tape which is very inconvenient for restoring incremental backups from it).